17 Proven Tips to Sleep Better at Night
This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation
A good night’s sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Research shows that poor sleep has immediate negative effects on your hormones, exercise performance, and brain function. It can also cause weight gain and increase disease risk in both adults and children. In contrast, good sleep can help you eat less, exercise better, and be healthier. Over the past few decades, both sleep quality and quantity has declined. In fact, many people regularly get poor sleep.
If you want to optimize your health or lose weight, getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do.
1. Increase bright light exposure during the day –
Daily sunlight or artificial bright light can improve sleep quality and duration, especially if you have severe sleep issues or insomnia.
2. Reduce blue light exposure in the evening –
Blue light tricks your body into thinking it’s daytime. There are several ways you can reduce blue light exposure in the evening.
3. Don’t consume caffeine late in the day –
Caffeine can significantly worsen sleep quality, especially if you drink large amounts in the late afternoon or evening.
4. Reduce irregular or long daytime naps –
Long daytime naps may impair sleep quality. If you have trouble sleeping at night, stop napping or shorten your naps.
5. Try to sleep and wake at consistent times –
Try to get into a regular sleep/wake cycle — especially on the weekends. If possible, try to wake up naturally at a similar time every day.
6. Take a melatonin supplement –
A melatonin supplement is an easy way to improve sleep quality and fall asleep faster. Take 1–5 mg around 30–60 minutes before heading to bed.
7. Consider these other supplements –
Several supplements, including lavender and magnesium, can help with relaxation and sleep quality when combined with other strategies.
8. Don’t drink alcohol –
Avoid alcohol before bed, as it can reduce nighttime melatonin production and lead to disrupted sleep patterns.
9. Optimize your bedroom environment –
Optimize your bedroom environment by eliminating external light and noise to get better sleep.
10. Set your bedroom temperature –
Test different temperatures to find out which is most comfortable for you. Around 70°F (20°C) is best for most people.
11. Don’t eat late in the evening –
Consuming a large meal before bed can lead to poor sleep and hormone disruption. However, certain meals and snacks a few hours before bed may help.
12. Relax and clear your mind in the evening –
Relaxation techniques before bed, including hot baths and meditation, may help you fall asleep.
13. Take a relaxing bath or shower –
A warm bath, shower, or foot bath before bed can help you relax and improve your sleep quality.
14. Rule out a sleep disorder –
There are many common conditions that can cause poor sleep, including sleep apnea. See a healthcare provider if poor sleep is a consistent problem in your life.
15. Get a comfortable bed, mattress, and pillow –
Your bed, mattress, and pillow can greatly affect sleep quality and joint or back pain. Try to buy a high quality bedding — including a mattress — every 5–8 years.
16. Exercise regularly — but not before bed –
Regular exercise during daylight hours is one of the best ways to ensure a good night’s sleep.
17. Don’t drink any liquids before bed –
Reduce fluid intake in the late evening and try to use the bathroom right before bed.
There are many common myths about sleep. We hear them frequently, and may even experience them far too often. Sometimes they can be characterized as “old wives tales,” but there are other times the incorrect information can be serious and even dangerous. The National Sleep Foundation has compiled this list of common myths about sleep,
and the facts that dispel them.
1. Snoring is a common problem, especially among men, but it isn’t harmful.
Although snoring may be harmless for most people, it can be a symptom of a life threatening sleep disorder called sleep apnea, especially if it is accompanied by severe daytime sleepiness. Sleep apnea is characterized by pauses in breathing that prevent air from flowing into or out of a sleeping person’s airways. People with sleep apnea awaken frequently during the night gasping for breath. The breathing pauses reduce blood oxygen levels, can strain the heart and cardiovascular system, and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Snoring on a frequent or regular basis has been directly associated with hypertension. Obesity and a large neck can contribute to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can be treated; men and women who snore loudly, especially if pauses in the snoring are noted, should consult
2. You can “cheat” on the amount of sleep you get.
Sleep experts say most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimum performance, health and safety. When we don’t get adequate sleep, we accumulate a sleep debt that can be difficult to “pay back” if it becomes too big. The resulting sleep deprivation has been linked to health problems such as obesity and high blood pressure, negative mood and behavior, decreased productivity, and safety issues in the home, on the job, and on the road.
3. Turning up the radio, opening the window, or turning on the air conditioner are effective ways to stay awake when driving.
These “aids” are ineffective and can be dangerous to the person who is driving while feeling drowsy or sleepy. If you’re feeling tired while driving, the best thing to do is to pull off the road in a safe rest area and take a nap for 15-45 minutes. Caffeinated beverages can help overcome drowsiness for a short period of time. However, it takes about 30 minutes before the effects are felt. The best prevention for drowsy driving is a good night’s sleep the night before your trip.
4. Teens who fall asleep in class have bad habits and/or are lazy.
According to sleep experts, teens need at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night, compared to an average of seven to nine hours each night for most adults. Their internal biological clocks also keep them awake later in the evening and keep them sleeping later in the morning. However, many schools begin classes early in the morning, when a teenager’s body wants to be asleep. As a result, many teens come to school too sleepy to learn, through no fault of their own.
5. Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep.
Difficulty falling asleep is but one of four symptoms generally associated with insomnia. The others include waking up too early and not being able to fall back asleep, frequent awakenings, and waking up feeling unrefreshed. Insomnia can be a symptom of a sleep disorder or other medical or psychological/psychiatric problem, and can often be treated. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2002 Sleep in America poll, 58 percent of adults in this country reported at least one symptom of insomnia in the past year. When insomnia symptoms occur more than a few times a week and impact a person’s daytime functions, the symptoms should be discussed with a doctor or other health care provider.
6. Daytime sleepiness always means a person isn’t getting enough sleep.
Excessive daytime sleepiness is a condition in which an individual feels very drowsy during the day and has an urge to fall asleep when he/she should be fully alert and awake. The condition, which can occur even after getting enough nighttime sleep, can be a sign of an underlying medical condition or sleep disorder such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea. These problems can often be treated, and symptoms should be discussed with a physician. Daytime sleepiness can be dangerous and
puts a person at risk for drowsy driving, injury, and illness and can impair mental abilities, emotions, and performance.
7. Health problems such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, anddepression are unrelated to the amount and quality of a person’s sleep.
Studies have found a relationship between the quantity and quality of one’s sleep and many health problems. For example, insufficient sleep affects growth hormone secretion that is linked to obesity; as the amount of hormone secretion decreases, the chance for weight gain increases. Blood pressure usually falls during the sleep cycle, however, interrupted sleep can adversely affect this normal decline, leading to hypertension and cardiovascular problems. Research has also shown that insufficient sleep impairs the body’s ability to use insulin, which can lead to the onset of diabetes. More and more scientific studies are showing correlations between poor and insufficient sleep and disease.
8. The older you get, the fewer hours of sleep you need.
Sleep experts recommend a range of seven to nine hours of sleep for the average adult. While sleep patterns change as we age, the amount of sleep we need generally does not. Older people may wake more frequently through the night and may actually get less nighttime sleep, but their sleep need is no less than younger adults. Because they may sleep less during the night, older people tend to sleep more during the day. Naps planned as part of a regular daily routine can be useful in romoting wakefulness after the person awakens.
9. During sleep, your brain rests.
The body rests during sleep, however, the brain remains active, gets “recharged,” and still controls many body functions including breathing. When we sleep, we typically drift between two sleep states, REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM, in 90-minute cycles. Non-REM sleep has four stages with distinct features, ranging from stage one drowsiness, when one can be easily awakened, to “deep sleep” stages three and four, when awakenings are more difficult and where the most positive and restorative effects of sleep occur. However, even in the deepest non-REM sleep, our minds can still process information. REM sleep is an active sleep where dreams occur, breathing and heart rate increase and become irregular, muscles relax and eyes move back and forth under the eyelids.
10. If you wake up in the middle of the night, it is best to lie in bed, count sheep, or toss and turn until you eventually fall back asleep.
Waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep is a symptom of insomnia. Relaxing imagery or thoughts may help to induce sleep more than counting sheep, which some research suggests may be more distracting than relaxing. Whichever technique is used, most experts agree that if you do not fall back asleep within 15-20 minutes, you should get out of bed, go to another room and engage in a relaxing activity such as listening to music or reading. Return to bed when you feel sleepy. Avoid watching the clock This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation
Mattress Nation - We sleep better knowing you sleep better
A peaceful night of slumber can leave you feeling more energized and alert when you wake up. But sleep quality is only part of how sleep affects your energy levels throughout the day. Sleep satisfaction also influences how energized you feel at any given moment, and better sleep satisfaction can make people feel more invigorated.
Sleep satisfaction—a subjective evaluation of how satisfied a person feels with his or her sleep — can be influenced by factors in the bedroom environment, such as light, noise, and temperature. It is frequently used along with sleep quantity (the number of hours slept) and sleep quality (the caliber of sleep) to assess your overall state of sleep. When satisfaction, quality, or quantity improves, energy levels can improve as well.
Sleep Restores Energy
During high-quality sleep, your body restores many functions it calls on during daily life, such as temperature regulation, a strong immune system, steady hormone levels, and good appetite. All of these factors play a role in how much energy you have. To operate at your peak potential, you need to maintain these functions through quality sleep.
Sleep Satisfaction Matters
Feeling good about the sleep you got sets you up for other positive emotions. Sleep satisfaction can lead to feelings of greater energy, whereas depression is often linked with feelings of fatigue. So, while sleep satisfaction is a subjective assessment, the outcome of how satisfied you feel could have measurable ramifications on your wellbeing.
Poor Sleep Quality Slows You Down
Beyond making you feel groggy when you wake up, poor sleep quality can make you feel sluggish throughout the day. For example, poor sleep quality has been linked to obesity and weight gain, and not getting enough sleep is also associated with an increase in calorie intake without any increase in activity level. Obesity and its associated health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes, can lower your energy level by making you feel fatigued during the day. Finally, a poor night of sleep can impact your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds and flus and lowering your energy levels for days
at a time.
How to Boost Sleep Satisfaction
If you find yourself feeling less than satisfied with your sleep, there are measures you can take to improve your sleep experience. Fresh bedding, low noise levels, and cool temperatures in your bedroom all contribute to a more satisfying sleep experience. By taking steps to increase your sleep satisfaction, you can wake up feeling refreshed with consistently high energy levels throughout the day.
This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation
As more is understood about sleep’s intersection with physiological health and performance, mattress and pillow design are evolving to help people fall—and stay—asleep.
Body temperature regulation—keeping the body cool during sleep—is a critical factor for optimized rest. In fact, body temperature naturally starts to fall by a couple degrees as bedtime approaches. But a mattress that retains heat and doesn’t allow the body to cool off can keep someone from sleeping soundly, says Allen Platek, Vice President of New Product Development at Tempur-Pedic.
Research data from Tempur Sealy shows 62% of U.S. households have at least one person who “sleeps hot”—meaning they feel overheated while sleeping, leading to poor sleep. “And if they have a partner, it’s likely their partner is not getting a good night’s sleep either,” Platek says.
Sleeping cooler is one of the top unmet needs in the sleep industry, so Platek and his team developed the TEMPUR-breeze° line of mattresses that are designed specifically to feel cool—not only when someone first lies on them, but also as they fall asleep and during the night. The line was developed by scientists in Tempur-Pedic’s Thermal Lab, after more than a decade of research to create the best microclimate for sleep. The groundbreaking mattress line also offers significant “breathability,” so that the heat and humidity normally trapped between the body and mattress can easily escape.
And humidity control is just as important as temperature control—if not more important. “The average person sweats about a cup of liquid every night,” Platek says, leading to discomfort and thirst. “So anything we can do to reduce sweating, the better off the sleeper will be.”
Motion separation is another critical issue. When one partner turns or shifts, a poor-quality mattress will cause the whole mattress to move—stirring anyone else in bed awake. Tempur-Pedic revolutionized motion separation technology more than 25 years ago and continues to drive innovations in the industry, Platek says.
Snoring is another big sleep concern. Tempur-Pedic’s new TEMPUR-Ergo® Smart Bases powered by Sleeptracker® AI can detect and respond to snoring vibrations by automatically elevating the head of the bed 12 degrees in order to help alleviate mild snoring caused by body position.
“There’s a number of studies out there that have indicated that adjusting your head position can help reduce snoring in an otherwise healthy individual,” Platek says. “Our product is the only one available in the U.S. that does that automatically and silently without any intervention from the user or their partner.”
Innovations in mattress design continue to expand as researchers uncover more about what factors contribute to a healthy night of sleep. Tempur-Pedic’s new product development team consists of dozens of experts—including chemists, biologists, engineers and technicians—who work together to create the materials and mattress and pillow designs that facilitate the right sleep conditions based on what the latest sleep research shows.
Adds Platek: “Science has greatly advanced with regard to what we can measure, and how we can respond with our bed designs.”
Sleep impacts numerous aspects of cognitive function, including memory retention, creativity and concentration. It also has important physiological effects, with sleep loss linked to increased risk for conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
“We know that getting better sleep helps reduce the risk of certain chronic illnesses. And conversely, we’re seeing the development of some of those diseases as a result of not sleeping well,” says Dr. Juliana Hauser, a marriage and family therapist and professional counselor. “When your overall health is being affected due to lack of sleep, that’s also going to affect your day-to-day routine.”
So how can we break out of our sleep-deprived cycle? Hauser suggests making simple adjustments to your environment and pre-sleep routine, like putting bedroom lights on dimmers, placing phones out of arm’s reach or practicing breathing exercises that help slow your heart rate. Guided meditation can be effective, as can writing down nagging thoughts and worries before bed. Hauser calls this practice “recapitulation.”
“It can help distract your brain from racing thoughts and help you determine what’s important and what isn’t. When you practice it often enough, it can help put your mind at ease, so you can actually go to sleep.”
What you eat also has an impact on how you sleep. Hauser suggests reducing carbs if eating later than 7 p.m. and avoiding foods that could cause digestive stress, allowing your body to prioritize the task of falling asleep over resolving heartburn.
Hansen goes further, advising her clients to carefully manage their blood sugar levels to avoid sudden spikes. “Sugar sends your body into peaks and crashes, and you can end up having a sudden spike in the middle of the night,” she says. “Instead, look for foods that release sugar more evenly, so the curve of your blood sugar is as even as possible.”